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Parable of the Drag-Net

Matthew 13:47-50



Of all of Jesus’ parables He has now given to His disciples, I’m sure this is the one they could relate to the best because it uses an illustration from the fishing world, and most of these guys had backgrounds from that industry.  Many of them left their nets when He called them saying, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.


I’ve never been much of a fisherman… I inherited a fishing disability from my dad, who got it from his dad, and his before him.  [It all began in 1889] We can catch fish, but sadly, they are all too small even for an aquarium.  The disorder is called 'Shirley's Shrimpy Seafood Syndrome'. 

I don’t have much patience for fishing, and no luck at all!  On the other hand, we have some in our church who believe that since the earth is 2/3rd’s covered with water, you are supposed to be fishing 2/3rd’s of the time!


Well in Bible days, there were 2 different kinds of nets used by fishermen.  A casting net is small, bell shaped, and an individual could use it by himself.  The other kind of net is a drag-net.  What is a drag-net? [Isn’t it a male net dressed as female?  No, that would be another misinterpretation of this parable!]  A drag-net is much larger.  In Bible days a drag-net could cover as much as 1 square mile of water surface area.  A group of fishermen would spread out the drag-net between 2 boats and would drag it toward the shoreline.  By the time they got the net to shore it would be filled with all sorts of sea creatures, and maybe a Michelin tire or a license plate! 


Men on the shore had the task of going thru the catch and separating the good from the bad.  There were no game wardens and PETA was nowhere to be found…it was simply man having dominion over the earth and making a living.  They would separate the useful from the useless, the edible from the bluegill!  It was discrimination which led to separation.


This parable reveals to us what God is doing among lost people today.  The gospel of the kingdom involves two things:  invitation and then separation.


The sea in the parable is representative of lost humanity.  It’s a sea of despair and hopelessness.  It’s a deep, dark abyss of iniquity.


The net is the church, extending the gospel invitation.  In this day of grace God is using us to throw out the gospel invitation.  I, for one, am very glad to live in this age of grace, where I could so freely be saved, and now can freely invite others to do so as well.  May we never get tired of casting the net / giving the invitation at the end of the service and other times / witnessing to others in the sea.


But then once we get to shore, there will be a separation.  But first…


I.      The Invitation


        A.    The casting.

v. 47        The gospel is available to the entire sea of humanity, people of every kind.  Nobody is so high the net cannot reach them, and none are so low that the net cannot descend to them.  None are so small that the net cannot embrace them.  None are so big that the net cannot wrap around them.  None are hopelessly lost…if only they want to be caught by the Master Fisher of Man! 


God says salvation is available to all…

Titus 2:11
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

1 Timothy 2:4
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Romans 8:32
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all

Isaiah 53:6
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Thank you 'all'!


Two of the most beautiful words in the Bible are ‘whosoever will’!  That includes up and coming folks and the down and out.  Religious Nicodemus needed to be born again, and so did the thief on the cross.


        B.    The gathering.

v. 47b      ‘of every kind’ – The ideal church will have a mixture of rich and poor, skin tones from light to dark, and everything in between.  Blue collars matter!  And so do white collars.

Ill.—wealthy woman in the 19th century named Lady Huntington, a wealthy noblewoman.  She was personal friends w/ George Whitfield, the great evangelist.  She had gotten saved during the great Welsh revival.  Someone asked her how a woman of her background came to be saved, she replied, “The letter ‘M’ is partly to credit for me” and then she quoted…

1 Corinthians 1:26
…not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

She continued, “notice that it does NOT say, ‘not any’, but not ‘many’.”


Not many rich get saved because their wealth gives them a false sense of security.  Jesus said such conversions ‘hardly’ happen.  But he also said, what does it profit if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul!  This implies that you can do well in this world and still make God the priority of your life and be saved.

The gospel net does indeed gather fish of every kind.


Ill.—William Colgate founded his company well over 200 years ago.  He was an avid Christian, and his church one season was praying for souls to be saved, and for church growth.  A poor woman had been attending and came forward for membership.  Churches would take a vote on receiving someone new into the body, and someone voiced opposition to the poor woman joining.  Colgate stood and said, “We need to go back and re-make our prayers.”  He elaborated, “We have been praying for God to save sinners, but we need to specify what kind of sinners we want Him to save!”  The congregation got the point and the woman was added to their number.


Now, notice that though fish of every kind were gathered, it does NOT say that every fish was gathered.  Not everyone will be saved.  We are not called to Christianize the world, we are called to Evangelize it.

1 Corinthians 9:22
…I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

And some of every kind is what we have here.  I’m proud of our church.  I’m not aware of a single racial bone in this body of believers.  We have several with special needs here, and thank God for them!  And as we reach people there will be some with weird hairstyles and even stranger lifestyles…but praise God we have some of every kind!  This is not a social club.  This is a hospital for sinners, not a display case for saints.


Ill.—When Jack Hyles first wanted to start his bus ministry in Hammond, IN he was met w/ criticism from a deacon in the church who said, “Preacher, this new idea of a bunch of kids in church whose parents don’t come…I don’t like it.”  Dr. Hyles said, “Brother, this idea isn’t new, D.L. Moody was bringing in hundreds of kids 100 years ago in our area [Chicago].”  “Yeah, but all those buses sitting out on our parking lot doesn’t look good.”  Hyles replied, “Moody brought them in wagons lined out front of the church.”  The man said, but do you know the mess of oil those buses will leave?”  “Yes, but Moody’s wagons were horse drawn, don’t you know they left a mess, too?!”


Let’s be a church that casts a big net for some of every kind!


The invitation involves casting and gathering of every kind…



II.    The Separation


v. 48-50   The interpretation of this parable reaches out into the future.  Someday a great separation will take place, and it won’t be the good people going to heaven and the bad to hell.  No, it’s the saved and the lost.  There are sheep and there are goats - just and unjust.


        A.    It will be final.  There will be no appeals.

v. 49        ‘so shall it be’ – No loopholes, no way out…now it is too late. 

Ill.—the devil has some success at convincing people there’s no hell, some he even has believing there’s no heaven, but his best tool he whispers in the most ears is not that there’s no hell or no heaven, but that there’s no hurry!  But on this day in our text ‘so shall it be’…the end, no more chances and no more hope!  Its time we warn our loved ones and even complete strangers because the time is very short!  Just as the door of the ark swung shut – and then the sky began to fall!


        B.    It will be factual.  God won’t make any mistakes.  He knows who is saved and who is not.  I still contend He may have made a paperwork error when He hooked me up for life with His best girl.  Do I really deserve this reward?  But maybe He really knows what He’s doing and is punishing her for something!

        Anywho...when the Lamb’s book of life is opened the record will be clear.  Some here may doubt their salvation, and need to get it nailed down…but if they let their pride hold them back, they can wind up in  hell with nothing but their pride.  In the meanwhile, they have the preacher fooled and the church fooled and their family fooled, but they cannot fool God!  Don’t fool yourself!


It’s not just a Baptist thing.  It’s a born again thing!  I believe there will be some saved even out of apostate churches which don't preach the gospel.  Some Catholics and Protestants who, in spite of the salvation by works teachings of their church, open their Bible for themselves, seek the Lord, and hear His voice, and believe!  Of the tens of thousands of online subscribers who get my sermons in their email each week, there are many who simply have no good church of any kind anywhere near them.  But they have a Bible and they have the Lord!


I dreamed death came the other night
   and heaven's gate swung wide
With kindly grace an angel fair
   Ushered me inside
And there to my astonishment
   Stood folks I'd known on earth
Some I'd judged and labeled
   As "unsaved", of little worth
Indignant words rose to my lips
   But never were set free
For every face showed stunned surprise
   No-one expected me.


We don’t know who will wind up in the net.  But we can know God makes no mistakes!


The separation will be final, factual…


        C.    It will be fatal.

v. 50        I know many today are saying that God would never send someone to hell.  My response is “I agree!  God doesn’t send them, they send themselves as they reject the get out of jail free card offered to them by Jesus Christ!

                Some go a step further and say “Well, I don’t believe in hell.”  But I say, “Jesus did, and now it’s your word against His!”  Death is final.  And it’s not annihilation, it is separation…from this body, from this world, from God…and part of the separation is believer from unbeliever.


How should we respond to a parable like this?  It should burden us to witness like there’s no tomorrow, for there may not be.  Reading the newspaper is like reading the book of Revelation.  This is why we have visitation!  Let’s cast the net and give the invitation before the day of separation comes!  This is why we have missionaries, and give extra money to send them around the world to give the great invitation before the great separation takes place!

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